#Swanwick70: Lynne’s In The Book Room

Today’s Sunday and the first full day of the Summer School. Having been inspired by last night’s guest speaker, Sue Moorcroft, we are all eager to get started on the courses and workshops; to finish our manuscripts and prepare them for publication (by whichever route we decide to take).  And if the speakers at ‘What Are You Writing Now?’ are anything to go by, what a diverse set of writers we have represented here this week: hen lit (chick lit for women of a certain age); children’s fantasy; death by poison; poetry for the grandchildren… the list goes on.

And, of course, the Book Room opens for the first time this morning. We are overflowing with authors again this year: some seasoned authors of long-standing; others just taking the first step along the road. My guest today writes books for children.

“I’m Lynne Hallett, an English and Drama teacher at Malvern College, happily married for 20 years, and a mother of two boys, aged 12 and 15. They were my biggest inspiration for starting writing. Even when they were days old, I was reading books to them, primarily those which rhymed, and came across a plethora of excellent examples, namely those of Julia Donaldson, Lynley Dodd and Allan Ahlberg. There’s nothing like aiming high, so I decided to try and follow in the footsteps of these greats and write my own.

I started writing in 2007, completed a Writing for Children course, and gathered together a lot of material before self-publishing the first three of my nine books in 2014. There’s a Mouse in the House is a count-to-ten-and-back-again book, inspired partly by the fact that I noticed little children can count forwards but not backwards so easily when they are small. Awesome Adventures was printed at the same time and is aimed at older children. Here, I drew my inspiration from Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes. It comprises two stories: Charlie Thumb’s Bubble Gum and Cedric and the Dragon. Although this was written for my sons, girls aged between 5-8 years old have appreciated the humour in these tales, too. Who Cut Up the Moon?, which is my only prose picture book to date, won me a prize in an international competition in 2012 and I felt that it deserved to see the light of day. It is a story which revolves around the quest of little mouse and his friends to either find the missing piece of the moon or to mend it.

In 2015, Bear with a Sore Head joined the collection, a story about a very tired and grumpy bear, who hasn’t quite realised that hibernation is over but is eventually persuaded out of his cave by other woodland creatures. The snoring and roaring in this one always proves a hit with infants, who readily join in. Hot on the heels of this was Hot Dog, a humorous tale of a dog who thinks he just might end up on the barbecue. I recently published two other rhyming books: Why Do We Have Night-time? and Other Stories, a collection of three tales with a bedtime focus and Alphabet Rhymes, which aims to teach younger children the alphabet through amusing quatrains and brightly coloured pictures. This one makes the perfect companion to There’s a Mouse in the House.

In 2016, I published Lizzie Saves the Day and A Present for the Baby, which are 5000 word chapter books about a little girl who speaks to animals in her garden and gets some help in solving her problems as a consequence. These prove a great follow on from the picture books and I hope to add to this series in due course.

So, if any of you have children, nieces and nephews, godchildren or grandchildren aged between 0 and 8, please take a look inside the books. In fact, even if you don’t, have a look anyway. You just might enjoy the light relief of a rhyming story!”

By Elizabeth Ducie

Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.

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